2006-04-20 / News


By Robert Morton-Ranney

Wouldn't it be easier if weddings were more

like funerals?

When a human life reaches its conclusion, a familiar routine is called upon. Relatives and close friends are notified.

A funeral director is called. A funeral officiant is engaged. Details of the service are finalized in a single meeting, and someone offers to take care of the collation.

As the focus of this process, the service not only remembers the deceased but also gives those in attendance permission to carry on with their own lives.

The food event afterward both serves as a symbol that life goes on, and provides everyone a chance to debrief in the face of the news that is the reason they are standing there looking at each other.

A choice of cremation followed by a memorial service makes the timing a little more flexible, but the process is basically the same.

Though not the kind of gettogether that could be considered a favorite, it usually all happens in the space of four or five days, and a sense of accomplishment and completion can be justly felt as a longer and more subtle grieving process begins.

Contrast this relatively clear process with the sprawling and chaotic enterprise that is the average wedding.

Wedding dates are now being set as far as two years out. Engagement periods have given way to planning cycles.

In many instances, the timing is being driven by the availability of a reception site. True, people are becoming more creative and invitations are increasingly being received to share in the joy of soand so and what's-his-name on a Thursday, or a Tuesday, or even Sunday morning at 8 a.m.

But fresh timing doesn't seem capable of altering the pace of the behemoth of pre-nuptial prep.

Colors must be co-ordinated: for bridesmaid dresses, which must also be purchased and fitted; groomsmen's ties and suits or tuxedoes, which must also be chosen and purchased or rented; mothers' dresses; flowers on the chancel and in the hands of the bride; flowers in the hands of bridesmaids and inthe boutonnieres on groomsmen; bows on pews; and pictures on wedding programs.

And all of this ignores completely the fact that you need a place to have this thing. If it's a church, there are interand intrafamily debates about whose church it should be in. If it's at somebody's house, ditto.

If it's going to be outside, there is the great tent kafuffle - What if it rains? You'd be amazed at the quagmire that selecting tent and chair size, style, and sturdiness becomes. Not to mention porta-potties.

Oh, and we have to have a rehearsal dinner. And the menu has to be fun without being silly, memorable without being pretentious, because the evening has to complement the big day without competing with it.

Because, you see, we absolutely all have to be together the night before the wedding together so that everyone can relax - people who are so tightly wound they could have powered the Wright Flyer.

Oh, yeah, choose the photographer (would you like the Special Day Series, the Precious Love Package, or the Unforgettable Us Array?).

Wait, wait, we're running out of time. The main course for the reception dinner, the vegetables, and the finger deserts.

And the band! And the music! And the speeches. And the . . . the . . . the limo!! Who booked the limo?

Ok, ok, almost there. Designate decorators for the marriage car, buy the tickets for the honeymoon. Get the . . .

Wait - has anybody seen the rings?!

Whew, it's all . . . no, hang on. The Day-After-Brunch. Who's going to cater? What time should we start? How many people should be invited? How long should it last?

And on, and on, and on it goes.

Almost any clergyperson will tell you that it is their very unscientific observation that there appears to be an inverse relationship between the cost of a wedding and the success of the marriage it begins.

The more expensive the wedding, the greater the chance of divorce. Sad to say, this little truth seems to have escaped a good many brides and grooms, not to mention their parents.

Wouldn't it be great if the relationship mattered more than the event?

Everyone understands that a funeral or memorial service cannot undo a death. Everyone understands that it merely marks the beginning of a delicate time of change, when what was most precious about a life must come to be prized and embraced in a different way.

When will we realize that weddings merely mark a delicate time of change, when relationships are redrawn and persons precious to us must come to be prized and embraced in a different way?

When will we realize that the enormous pressures we put on weddings may be taking away from the attention new relationships need, and may actually be helping to undo the couples they celebrate?

Wouldn't it be cool if you just got a call saying that so-and-so and what's-his-name are gettin' hitched at the community hall next week, and we sure hope you can make it? Oh, and it's potluck, so bring something.

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